In collaboration with Renee Lai. Comissioned by the Elisabet Ney Museum, 2022

The Bathing of the Sphinx by artists Rosa Nussbaum and Renee Lai, was comissioned by the Elisabet Ney Museum in Austin, Texas.

The Elisabet Ney Museum is housed in the former studio of sculptor Elisabet Ney and is dedicated to showcasing her life and works.

The exhibition features an outdoor sculpture on the grounds of the museum and a video installation inside the museum itself. Both works interweave the bodies of artists Rosa Nussbaum and Renee Lai and their own fraught relationships with art, Texas and femininity into Ney’s own account of her life and struggles as a woman artist. During Lai and Nussbaum's research, they discovered an account of a missing statue, in which Ney had depicted herself as a sphinx. In the work, this lost sphinx becomes the guide and proxy to Ney’s enigmatic personal history.

video projected on screen video projected on screen

Installation shot of the video portion of The Bathing of the Sphinx at the Elisabet Ney Museum

sculpture of shpinx/reflecting pool in the grounds of the Ney museum

Installation shot of the sculptural installation for The Bathing of the Sphinx on the grounds of the Elisabet Ney Museum

sphinx head close-up

The plaster head of the sculpture features the faces of both artists, on either side of the sphere of a full moon. Lai’s face stares up and out into the sky, Nussbaum’s gazes back and down at her own reflection.

Embedded in the neck of the sphinx is an egg; a reference to Ney’s habit of eating a raw egg for breakfast everyday and her disinterest in cooking and other domestic chores.

sphinx head reflection

Reflection of the Sphinx's lower face in the reflecting pond that makes up its body.

renee eyes behind glasses with caption reading: Does the moon study itself this much?
rosa floating in water with caption reading: of being
blue head meets its reflection in a dark body of water with moon in background. Caption reads: or a secret look

Video stills from of the video portion of The Bathing of the Sphinx at the Elisabet Ney Museum